This week in Mountain Scene history


1975 Lands Minister Matiu Rata gifts seven hectares of commonage land on Queenstown Hill to Queenstown Borough Council to develop and sell off as residential sections. Mayor Warren Cooper says profits will fund a new town sewerage scheme. 

1985 The Post Office has installed six extra switchboards at the booming resort’s manual telephone exchange – there are now 22 switchboards. To cope with rising call demand, the number of operators at the exchange has also been increased – to 54. 

1995 New Labour opp­osition leader Helen Clark pays her first official visit to talk tourism with councillors and Queens­town Promotion Board directors. 

2001 Rumoured mayoral candidate Clive Geddes – who wins the chains of office – slams outgoing mayor Warren Cooper for commissioning a $60,000 sculpture with­out public consultation. The 2.4-metre statue of civic founder William Gilbert Rees – to go at the bottom of Queens­town Mall – costs ratepayers $30,000, with community trusts coughing up the rest.

2004 Johnston’s Coachlines puts Wakatipu Rugby Club on notice following allegations of drunken and dangerous behaviour by players. Long-time driver Phil Jones claims WRC’s top two teams ran riot on his $650,000 tour bus – several of the 47 players and supporters on board vomited and urinated during a boozy trip back from Ranfurly, he reckons. While driving, Jones alleges, he nearly lost control after almost being pushed out of his seat by a drunken prop – “I felt the back of the bus start to slew … I’d say we were inches from heading into the Kawarau River.” Jones has told Johnston’s he’ll do no more rugby trips. However, WRC coach Lindsay Thomas says he was in the front seat of the bus – “dead sober” – and never saw anyone out of control. Urine only ended up on the carpet because the toilet overflowed and only one player vomited, he says. Club members offered to clean it up but Jones refused.